The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged to extend a halt of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots through the end of the year to allow low-income countries to vaccinate their most vulnerable groups.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on rich countries with large supplies of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine manufacturers to refrain from offering booster shots until the end of the year.
“Today, I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population,” Tedros said at a media briefing in Geneva on Sept. 8, citing that there has been “little” change since he first called for the global moratorium last month.
According to WHO, 5.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 80% have been in high- and upper-middle income countries.
WHO also said that no low-income country has reached either targets of vaccinating at least 10% of its population by the end of September or of at least 40% by the end of 2021.
“That’s not their fault,” Tedros said, adding that there was “too little action” on vaccine equity.
“We don’t want any more promises. We just want the vaccines,” Tedros said.
Tedros said he was “appalled” to read comments from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association who said that Group of Seven countries have enough vaccine supplies for both booster shots and vaccinations in countries facing shortages.
Tedros called on the Group of 20 countries during a meeting to support the COVAX program, saying that they “hold the key to vaccine equity and ending the pandemic.”
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